wooded trail
Hemlock Draw wooded trail © Mark Godfrey

Places We Protect

Hemlock Draw

Wisconsin

Hemlock Draw supports a stunning contrast in vegetation.

What is a Draw?

A draw or hollow refers to a valley or long narrow gorge between two clefts of rock.

Why You Should Visit

Of all the hollows in the Baraboo Hills, Hemlock Draw supports the most stunning contrast in vegetation. You can see plant and bird species typically found in the northern areas of the state growing close to those typically found in southern Wisconsin.

These northern species, such as hemlock and yellow birch, may be relics from the time, some 13,000 years ago, when the edge of a towering ice mass stood just a few miles to the east.

You can see narrow pillars of rock, called "sea stacks," which are a remnant of ancient times when the Baraboo Hills were a chain of islands in a vast sea.

Location

South Central Wisconsin: in Sauk County near Leland - a 30-minute drive from Baraboo

Why the Conservancy Selected This Site

The Nature Conservancy first came to the Baraboo Hills in the early 1960s at the request of local residents and university professors who recognized the unique nature of this area. They wanted the Conservancy's help in protecting it.

The presence of both northern and southern plant and bird species makes Hemlock Draw an important site in the Hills.

What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing

The Conservancy has helped protect a total of 1,080 acres at Hemlock Draw. This figure includes government cooperative projects and 1,010 acres owned and managed by the Conservancy.

An active group of volunteers helps the Conservancy to maintain some trails, take down fences, and remove non-native, invasive plants.

We have an ongoing research project here that tests various forest management techniques to determine the most effective way to maintain the oak forest community. This community is slowly disappearing as much of the forest becomes dominated by maples and other shade-tolerant species.

What to See: Plants

  • Many northern forest trees and plants, including hemlock, yellow birch, club mosses, liverworts and cliff saxifrage
  • Red and white oaks, hickories, and ironwood
  • Wildflowers, including wild geranium, wood anemone, bloodroot, and trillium
  • Several rare plants, including drooping sedge and kidney-leaved sullivantia

What to See: Birds

More than 40 species of breeding birds, including Barred Owls, Ruffed Grouse, Wood Thrush, Black-capped Chickadee, six species of warblers — including the rare worm-eating warbler — and four species of woodpeckers.

Please wear good hiking shoes that can get wet for the primitive, unmarked trail.

PLAN YOUR VISIT

For more information about visiting the preserve, please follow the links below: